The Commission has approved a technical amendment to the following: FTC Rule 4.1(b). As detailed in a Federal Register notice to be published shortly, the Commission is amending this Rule to make it consistent with Executive Order 13184, issued by President Clinton on December 28, 2000. That order revoked Executive Order 12834, which had been issued on January 20, 1993, that had required certain Executive Branch appointees, including commissioners and certain other "senior" Commission officials appointed on or after January 20, 1993, to sign an ethics pledge to abide by certain post-employment restrictions for five years after leaving their federal jobs. Executive Order 13184, which became effective on January 20, 2001, provides that no former employee will be subject to the provisions of such a pledge. Thus, the technical amendment removes the reference to the 1993 Executive Order from the Rule. The Commission vote to amend the Rule was 5-0. (FTC File No. 002-3194; staff contact is Ira S. Kaye, Office of the General Counsel, 202-326-2426.)
The Commission has approved the modification of a 1996 stipulated order for permanent injunction regarding the following: Infinity Corporation ("Infinity") and defendant Gregory Duvall. The modified order requires Duvall and Infinity to post a $350,000 performance bond before engaging in the sale, offering or telemarketing of franchises, business ventures, work-at-home opportunities or other income-generating goods or services, or assisting others engaged in those activities. It further requires the defendants to institute a return policy and disclose it to dissatisfied customers.
In March 1996, the FTC announced its settlement with Infinity, based in Alhambra, California, and its principal Gregory Duvall, as part of "Project Telesweep" - a nationwide crackdown by federal and state regulators on business opportunity fraud. The stipulated judgment and order for permanent injunction resolved the FTC's charges that the defendants violated the Franchise Rule and the FTC Act in the offering and selling of their medical billing franchises. The settlement prohibits Duvall and Infinity from, among other things, making material misrepresentations in connection with the offer and sale of business ventures, including misrepresentations about the potential income an investor is likely to achieve or that others have achieved, or the availability or existence of profitable locations.
The parties have agreed to modify the previous order to include a $350,000 performance bond, and a mandatory refund policy for dissatisfied consumers. In addition, the modified order would prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting: 1) the ease of securing a contract to perform billing services; 2) that they offer a turnkey operation; 3) the expense involved in operating a billing service; and 4) the knowledge and skills required to code medical bills accurately.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to refer the proposed settlement to the Department of Justice for filing was 5-0. The modified order was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, in Los Angeles, on January 23, 2001. It is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Stipulated judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge. (FTC File No. X950069; Civil Action No. CV 95-4819-R; staff contact is James Reilly Dolan, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3292; see press release dated March 14, 1996.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.